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Benefits, vacation pay, sick time, unemployment compensation

Pregnancy discrimination is illegal

Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time. The last thing a pregnant woman should have to deal with is getting hassled at work. If you are having problems because you are pregnant, remember the law is on your side. Be proactive and report the problem to your supervisor or Human Resources. If you are unsure about how to present the facts, contact an employment lawyer to coach you.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits an employer from discriminating against a pregnant employee. The employer cannot use the employee’s pregnancy status when making a decision about hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, etc. It is illegal to harass a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The employer is responsible for correcting harassment by a supervisor, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, like a client or vendor.

If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer cannot treat her differently than any other employee who has a temporary disability. Just like an employer may have to offer light duty work to a male employee with a temporary back condition, the employer must consider doing the same for a pregnant employee. Pregnant employees can receive alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave if the employer offers the same options to other temporarily disabled employees.

If a woman has medical issues after her pregnancy (for example, weight lifting restrictions) she may also be entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An employer may have to provide a reasonable accommodation (such as leave or modifications that enable an employee to perform her job) for a disability related to childbirth.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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